Since the 1990s, Marian has seen countless stressed-out, graphite-covered second semester Art III students pass through its halls, toting their intimidating black portfolio bags up and down the stairs and mumbling under their breath about lead and erasers. These are the tell-tale signs that self-portraits season has begun.
In a normal year, Art III students would spend the first semester studying lead types, shading techniques and every type of paper they can get their hands on. Then the class would move into photography, where students would take more than 100 photos of themselves, before choosing just one to dedicate their self-portrait to.
By the end of their second semester, juniors and seniors would see their hours of hard work pay off in the form of a 23 x 17 in., hand-drawn, picture-perfect graphite self-portrait, which would be displayed in numerous contests and portfolios, as well as in the quad for students to appreciate.
Last year’s Art III class was not so lucky. The peer-critique and teacher advisory they relied on was no longer available in quarantine, and the portrait process came to an abrupt halt. However, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, art teacher Mrs. Ashley Bauer and her students continuing into Art IV have picked up where they left off in May, and the self-portraits are ready for their big reveal.
Portraits are made of much more than just the face, students also learn to tackle backgrounds, additional props, or in senior Rachel Achola’s case, reflections, before they begin to work on their faces. “Otherwise,” said Bauer, “girls would draw their eyes first, and then get bored.”
Portraits don’t need to be serious! Take senior Lydia Rose’s criticism of ketchup for example: “I really do hate ketchup so this photo is a great representation of myself,” Rose said. “The photo idea was definitely random, but I’m glad I decided to do it!”
Senior Emma Gunn also made use of props in her photo, except her props were other people. “I liked that I had the hands of my two friends in it. I feel like it fits my art style pretty well,” Gunn said.
Senior Katie Hedrick’s face is hidden by glass in her portrait, obscuring her facial features but still leaving her easily recognizable.
Senior Maddie Randby pulls a shocking pose in her portrait. “I remember the day I started my portrait I was so scared because I’d never done anything this big before. It’s just crazy to almost be done with it,” Randby said.
Although they look like one large picture, the portraits are actually made up of around 350 small boxes, and each box usually takes around 5-10 minutes to complete, depending on what’s inside. Each class deadline requires a set of boxes to be completed until box by box, the class completes their self-portraits.